Gone are the days when we thought of stuffed peppers as "meatloaf in bell peppers." Or are they?
Today's stuffed pepper recipes are eclectic, and international. They may still contain meat, vegetables and a starch, but with great variety.
What used to be ground beef,
onions and rice or bread crumbs (still good, BTW) may now be lamb, couscous, and
wild mushrooms. Or vegetarian stuffed peppers with quinoa, corn, cilantro and
Entree or side dish, stuffed bell peppers could even technically be a one dish meal; all the food groups are covered. But a lone stuffed pepper sitting on a white plate will look pretty silly. Pretty, but silly. What goes with? Anything you would serve with meatloaf, of course.
Italian Stuffed Peppers
Cheese and sausage stuffed peppers with orzo pilaf
1 cup dried orzo pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1-1/2 pounds ground sausage*
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
8 large bell peppers of your choice
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the
orzo and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the pasta is golden
brown. Pour in the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium
again for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
In a large bowl, combine the sausage,
garlic, and seasonings. *If you are using seasoned sausage, adjust the added
seasonings down. Stir in the orzo pilaf, tomatoes, and cheeses.
Cut the tops off the clean bell peppers, leaving the stems on, and remove the seeds and white pulp. Stuff each one with the sausage mixture. Replace the caps and transfer the peppers to a 9 X 13 baking dish. Bake in a preheated 375° oven until tender, about 1 hour. Makes 8 servings that will serve 5 to 8 people as an entree.
Lamb-Stuffed Peppers with Wild Mushrooms
1-1/2 pounds ground or chopped lamb
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup reconstituted and chopped shitake mushrooms (or fresh)
2 cups cooked couscous
1 teaspoon ground cumin or chopped mint
2 teaspoons fresh, chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon ground
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste
8 large bell peppers, your choice of color(s)
Mix all but the bell peppers together in a large bowl. Cut the tops off the clean peppers; remove the pulp and seeds. Stuff the peppers full with the lamb mixture, replace the lids, and place them in a large baking dish. Bake in a preheated 375° oven until tender, about 1 hour. Makes 8 servings. These are very good served with Tzatziki on the side.
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
No, the peppers are not stuffed with vegetarians. These are quinoa-stuffed peppers with decidedly
Mexican overtones. Quinoa, pronounced "keen-wah," is a South American
seed much like a grain and is very high in protein. Excellent side dish as well
4 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 jalapeño or Serrano pepper, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
8 bell peppers of your choice
Mix all the ingredients but the bell
peppers together in a large bowl. Cut the tops off of the cleaned bell peppers;
remove the seeds and pulp from the cavities. Stuff the peppers well with the
quinoa mixture and put the tops back on. Arrange the stuffed peppers in a large
baking dish. Bake in a preheated 375° oven until the filling is hot and the
peppers are tender, 45 minutes to an hour.